Tyler is a quiet little guy. Well, he’s quiet verbally, that is. He’s a heartily rambunctuous little guy mostly, crashing around, laughing loudly, making noises — car-noises, animal-noises, BIG-CRASH noises — all of which makes him a 100% standard two-year-old.
Where he deviates from standard is his spoken voice, which is very soft. You have to listen to hear Tyler, but when you do, you get gems, I tell you. Absolute gems.
“I’m making a recipe for mummy-daddy,” he says, looking up from the playdough. (“Mummy-daddy” is often a unit in conversation around here. I could teach them “my parents”, I know, but “mummy-daddy” is just so damned adorable.) “I’m making a recipe!”
“Do you know what a recipe is?”
“Yes!” Ha. I doubt it.
“What is it?” I call his bluff, genuinely curious. There is a pause, before his face brightens.
Or how about this one?
I’d handed them all their sippy cups, but Tyler’s lid had not been properly screwed on, and had drizzled liberally down his shirt. Oops. After cleaning him up and replacing the lid, he takes a tentative sip, looks down at his clean, dry shirt, and says,
“No my cup is bleeding anymore.”
Emma, observing the tots in some form of lunacy or other, chortles at Tyler.
“You’re weird, you know that?”
Tyler beams — and dimples. In case sturdy body, thick blond hair and enormous blue eyes aren’t cute enough, the boy has dimples. Ooooh, my lordy. I grin at Emma. “He’s going to take that as a compliment.”
Tyler’s glance shoots to the green bin on the kitchen counter.
“Take dat to a compost-man?”
The boy’s a darling, I tell you. Just a darling.
A while back, Noah started showing some reluctance at drop-off. It doesn’t matter that he’d been coming for well over a year and has been just fine for all but the first month. No, there’s no reason for it. It’s just one of those two-year-old things.
There probably was a reason, initially. Maybe he’d had a bad dream just before waking. Maybe he was coming down with a cold, or had had a squabble with a fellow-toddler, or was sprouting yet another tooth, or hadn’t eaten breakfast, or was under-rested, or, or, or…
There are any number of reasons for a sudden change of attitude, and you know what? Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t matter what the reason might be. One time in ten, it does: on that occasion, you deal with the issue — maybe another child is routinely picking on the reluctant one, maybe the parents are too often fighting in his presence on the way to daycare, maybe a child is chronically under-rested. All those things can be dealt with direct, but generally the adults involved do the figuring. We grown-ups put our heads together to see if there’s a preciptating cause, and, if so, to see if there’s something we can do to eliminate it.
There is almost no point at all in asking a two-year-old “Why are you sad?” They don’t know. They just are. If you press them, they get confused, and it makes the anxiety worse. If you try to help them out by making suggestions, they’ll either just wail harder, or latch onto something at random. “Yes! I’m sad because gramma went home! Yes!”
Is that really it? Who knows?
And really, it rarely matters. What always matters is how you respond.
And Noah’s dad, GOD BLESS HIM, responds well. So well. This guy is a master of managing the drop-off uncertainty that Noah was evidencing for a bit there.
After getting his customary good-bye hug, Noah was not trotting off to see what the others are up to — which used to be customary. Now he was turning back to daddy.
“Nuther hug,” he said, a tremor of anxiety in his voice.
“I get ANOTHER hug?!?” daddy exclaims, with great enthusiasm. “Boy, am I lucky!” And he would scoop his son up into a wild and happy embrace, swinging Noah’s wee body from one side to the other, laughing all the while. And Noah laughs, too. How could he not, with dad injecting such positivity and fun into the proceedings?
And then, when dad set Noah down the second time, he cheerfully announced “Have fun today!” — and left. Immediately. He didn’t wait to see what Noah does next, he didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t linger to see Noah settled. He just left.
And Noah? Noah was now in my arms, off to get a book. Which we read on the couch, and by the time the book is done — and it always involves at least three enthusiastic verses of Old MacDonald — Noah has made his transition. He is here, and he is happy.
In fact, the second hug/book/sing-song has become such happy part of our morning ritual that I’d forgotten it orginated in drop-off anxiety. It’s just what we do. Noah hasn’t shown any concern for several weeks, but he’s still getting that second, swooping, laughing hug. It’s just adorable.
And then, today, Mummy did the drop-off.
And when Noah evidenced that tiny smidge of anxiety, which hadn’t been obvious for five weeks or more, mummy squatted down and made eye contact, stroking her son’s shoulder, calming him.
“It’s okay, Noah. You know you have fun at Mary’s.”
“It’s okay to be sad, sweetie, but I know you’ll have a good day.”
“Oh, honey. Come and give mummy a big hug, and then try to smile, okay?”
And the dam bursts. There are tears everywhere. He is clinging to mummy, wailing. She is patting and soothing.
And I am wishing Daddy had done the drop-off this morning…
… three to consider.
I’ve had four interviews over the past ten days.
You know, the last time I lost a child at short notice, it took five months to fill that spot. After five months of 20% reduced income, I had eaten up every last penny of the cushion I keep stashed for these eventualities, and was beginning to get a little wild around the edges.
This time, the fates must be smiling. I’d had two people call in the preceding couple of weeks, people who I’d turned away, thinking I had no spaces. So of course I hunted them up on the call display and called them back. A couple others called me up out of the blue.
Four interviews! In ten days! Amazing. All of them lovely, lovely people, too.
Well. Almost all of them.
Then there was the awful, awful man.
I mean, really awful. Not just a style difference. Not just a little abrasive, but probably good at heart. Not “eccentric”, or “not too socially skilled”.
The sad thing is, mom is a lovely person. Bright and bubbly, pretty as a picture, sunny, sweet. Her son is every bit as appealing.
And then there’s dad.
I’d spoken to mom twice on the phone and met she and baby once before dad came into the picture. Just to meet me, just so I could see him. He was in my front hall for perhaps ten minutes, and in that time I firmly decided I never, ever wanted to see him again.
As it happened, a couple of other things had happened with her job situation in the meantime to make us a bad fit for each other. Thank heavens, because it meant I could tell them no without feeling like I’d let her down badly. Because lord only knows that poor woman needs all the support she can get… whether she understands that yet or not.
But by now you’re all saying, “Enough with the foreshadowing it! Spit it out, woman! WHAT DID HE DO???”
1. He’s holding baby while mom roots about in her purse for something. Baby is ten months old, a happy, chipper little guy, so friendly. He sees Emma sitting across the room, and is flapping at her, the way babies do.
“Stop that!” dad barks. I think maybe baby punched him in the nose or something, and the sudden pain caused an inappropriately severe response.
“What did he do?” I ask.
“He’s waving like a maniac!” dad gripes.
“Waving like a maniac”? Well, we can’t have that, now, can we? Because we wouldn’t want our child to be… oh… happy, or anything, would we?
(Mom doesn’t appear to have noticed this exchange. She’s still rummaging through her bag, talking… to me or to herself, I’m not sure. She hasn’t done anything wrong, I’m not saying that at all. She’s just preoccupied, and hasn’t caught it.)
But I’m feeling distinctly uncomfortable with this man now. Obviously, I’d have some work cut out for me, teaching him, if he’s open to it, to have some reasonable expectations of a baby. Assuming I’d want to take that job on. Hm.
2. A minute or so later, the topic of drop-off times arises. Now, I’d previously suggested that I would be open to taking the baby 15 minutes prior to my usual opening time, since mom’s work hours don’t quite mesh with mine. I’m such a morning person, 15 minutes early is not a big deal.
Except, I now find out, dad starts work 45 minutes later than mom, so she’s hoping that he could drop their son two days a week. His face registers nothing — not anger, not surprise, nothing — as he barks out (again with the barking),
That’s it. No explanation. No apologies to me, who is (hello!) offering to make a concession to their convenience. (Except, now that I know this, there is no way in HELL I’m going to open early so Mr. Anti-Dad of the Year can avoid his parental responsibility.) No apologies to his wife. Just a bald, “Not happening.”
She tries again, and he cuts her off mid-sentence, “Not happening.”
Okay, then. That’s two.
3. And then, as they are getting ready to leave, she is once again hunting through a bag for something to show me. She hands sweet baby boy off to his father, asking, “Would you put his coat on him, please?”
She and I continue to chat while she rummages, and then, somehow, before she’s found what she’s looking for, she’s holding the baby again. She’s a distractable sort, obviously, because she doesn’t really react except to distractedly hand baby and coat back to dad, repeating her polite request, and continuing to rummage.
It is not until baby reappears for the THIRD time in her arms that she stops chattering/rummaging, makes eye contact with dad, and says,
“I asked you to put his coat on!” If there’s some annoyance in her tone, it’s entirely warranted. Wouldn’t you say? And really, it was pretty mild.
“Yeah, I know,” he says. “You ask me to do a lot of things. And I don’t do them.” And he smirks a bit.
It was at least two hours after they left that I calmed down enough to stop pacing and throwing my arms about. Two hours before I stopped with the sudden ejaculations.
“I don’t BELIEVE him!”
“Could you BELIEVE that man?”
“What an ASSHOLE!”
As I say, I’m glad her work situation ended up precluding me from taking them because I would have felt really, really guilty saying no just because dad is an UNMITIGATED ASSHOLE… but I would have. Because there is no way, no way on this green earth, that I wanted to have anything to do with that man.
Not that I expected to see him doing any drop-offs or pick-ups. HA! But if something happened that he didn’t like… and god only knows there probably would be… I’m betting he’s the one I’d be dealing with. And what of the social events I plan from time to time? The pot-lucks and the sangria Fridays and the parties?
Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh…
I did have a conversation with her about him. A careful conversation on my part, wanting to communicate some important things, but not leave her feeling criticized, in which I tried to be supportive while not putting myself on the firing line. A conversation in which she said all the things a woman who doesn’t realize she’s in an abusive situation says… “He means well. My girlfriends have told me this, too, but they just don’t get him like I do. He just has an off-beat sense of humour. He’s a good dad. He really cares, he just has trouble showing it.”
I’m glad I’m out of it…
for 4 – 6 people
This recipe game from Stephanie O’Dell’s crockpot blog, but I don’t do it in a crockpot (much as I love mine), because I find that chicken cooks down to really disgusting texture-free goo in the crockpot.
chicken, one thigh (no back attached) per person
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped (not too fine)
15 cardamom pods (see below)
2 teaspoons (10 g) curry powder
1/2 t (3 g) ground cayenne
2 teaspoons (10 g) garam masala
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) ground ginger
1 can (13.5 ounces/400 mL) coconut milk
155 mL (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
2 tablespoons (30 g) lemon juice
1 cup (250 g) plain yoghurt
Re: cardamom pods: you don’t want these things floating loose in the broth. They’re rubbery and splintery to bite into, most unpleasant. So, you either stitch them together, which is a pain, frankly, or you put them in a muslin or cheesecloth bag. If your kitchen is like mine, you don’t own a muslin or cheesecloth bag. SOOOO, what you do, if you’re brilliant and creative, like me, is take a teabag and snip on corner off (or, in my case, on teeny sliver of the round), tip the tea out (or into a teapot), and fill with cardamom pods. Fold the teabag closed, and secure with a twist-tie. You’ll still need to fish it out before you eat, but it’s way easier to find than 15 small seedpods!
Word to the wise: use solid metal twist-tie. You don’t want melted plastic or paper bits in your broth!
1. Roast chicken. I do this the day before, and remove meat from bones in largish chunks. I suspect you could just cook the meat in with everything else… it’s just that I’ve never done it that way, so I don’t know!
2. Preheat oven to 275F (135C).
3. Put everything but the meat and the yoghurt into a casserole dish with a lid. Stir. It doesn’t matter if the butter is solid — it’ll melt soon enough!
4. Cover and bake for two hours, then, stir, add the chicken and continue to cook (covered) for another hour.
5. Stir in the yoghurt just before serving. (I admit I forget this half the time. It’s still perfectly delicious, but it would be creamier and not quite so spicy with the yoghurt in!)
Serve with rice or naan.
(I’ve served this to the tots before, and they all like it. Theirs always gets the yoghurt, and is served over rice, which makes it milder. I find that kids are far more tolerant of spices than we often give them credit for.)
I don’t recall where I found this recipe, which I’ve altered substantially, anyway.
Cucumber salad with lime-pepper dressing
3 English cucumbers, cut into 1/2 cm cubes. (Slice them lengthwise first, then again, so you have 12 or so long skinny sorta-rectangular strips. Then slice across the stack of strips to make bunches of cubes.)
1 tomato, coarsely chopped (skin and seeds and all)
1 onion, sliced into thin rings (I usually slice the rings in half)
(If serving as vegetarian entree, add 1 can chickpeas.)
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and thin-sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
3 tablespoons (45g) chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons (45ml) oil
4 tablespoons (60ml) lime juice
fresh-ground pepper to taste
Toss all dressing ingredients into a blender and whirl until as smooth as it’s going to get. (It’ll have green flecks.)
Pour the dressing over the vegetables, stir, then sit in fridge for at least an hour.
And this one comes from Extending the Table, a fabulous source of delicious recipes!
Put into blender:
1 cup onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons ginger root, finely chopped
Blend it up. Add a small sploosh of water as needed to get it to form into a goopy paste. Leave it in blender while you do the next bit:
Preheat oven to 350F (185C)
Put into casserole:
4 medium tomatoes, cut into thin slices
3/4 cup green beans (the recipe calls for peas, but I like beans better. Use peas if you prefer!)
1/2 t (3g) cayenne
1 t (5g) turmeric
1 t (5g) salt
1 medium cauliflower, cut up into florets. (You can use the stalks, too.)
Pour the contents of the blender over the vegetables in the casserole dish. Add 1/4 cup of water.
Cook, covered, for 30 – 40 minutes until the cauliflower is as soft as you prefer it. I left it for an hour, and it was too mooshy for my taste — but still tasted good! (And no, I wouldn’t seriously expect many of the kids to enjoy this, but they’d all be expected to try a bite, just to see! Emily, though? Emily LOVES spicy!)
I totally forgot.
My food prep is not going well today. We were going to have leftovers from yesterday’s dinner — PLANNED leftovers — but we can’t. Because my family ate it all.
Of course, it was very, very good: butter chicken and naan, hot’n'spicy cauliflower and a lime-and-pepper cucumber salad. With rice, as my grandmother would have said, to “fill in the spaces”. But there should’ve been plenty for the tots. Plenty.
But that’s okay, because I just remembered I forgot Pancake Tuesday!!!
Guess what, kiddlies? We are going to have pancake WEDNESDAY this year, because pancakes are fun and easy and now I know what we’ve having for lunch. Yay!
I’m thinking the tots will not object.
We had a holiday here on Monday, Family Day. I didn’t take it last year, but I carefully wrote it into the contracts for this year, so hurrah!, I had Monday off.
But of course, I have a contract-free family, don’t I? Mom approached me last Thursday at the end of the day.
“SO ABOUT MONDAY,” she bellows. Really. If she were one of the kids, I’d be saying “I’m right in front of you. You don’t need to shout.” She’s an adult, so I can’t do that, but every time she opens her mouth, I’m wincing.
“IT’S FAMILY DAY. ARE YOU TAKING IT?”
I tell her I am.
“BECAUSE I DON’T GET IT, AND I DON’T KNOW ANYONE WHO DOES.” So she says, but she’s wrong: about half the other daycare parents get it. (Family Day is a new holiday, and only made it to Statutory last year. Oddly, not everyone does get it. However, it is now a stat.)
“I didn’t take it last year, but it’s in the contract now.”
“BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T NOTIFY US OR ANYTHING.”
Let us stop and take in the enormous gall of that statement, shall we? I didn’t notify them. As Emma said later, “You didn’t notify her of a one-day STATUTORY holiday. She didn’t tell you about her PREGNANCY for FIVE MONTHS. Helloooooo…” For five months, and even then, I had to ask.
I didn’t notify them. Oh, gracious.
But, you know, it made me a bit worried. I normally do give people a head’s-up, and I certainly don’t want anyone blind-sided, scrambling for alternate care at the last second.
So the next morning:
Me: You know that I’m taking Monday?
Parent 1: Oh, we figured you were. No problem.
Good. One down.
Me: Just confirming you’re aware that I get Monday?
Parent 2: Oh, sure. And really — it’s kind of ironic to send kids to daycare on Family day, I always think. I was saying to my sister…
(Parent 2, god love her, is a rambler. But she’s not surprised by the holiday, which is what I wanted to know.)
Me: Just double-checking. You know I’m taking Monday?
Parent 3: Well, we weren’t sure, actually, since only one of us gets it and we weren’t here last year, but we checked the contract. That’s fine. Yeah, yeah. Fine.
“We weren’t sure, so we checked the contract.” Yes, exactly. That’s what contracts are for. Thank you for saying that, wonderful, wonderful Parent Number Three.
I’ve had two interviews for my upcoming June space, and another scheduled for next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
That’s the noise my ironing board makes as the legs unfold. You grab the top and let the legs drop to the floor, kah-chang-ing all the way down. It’s pretty dramatic, really.
By the time it’s set up, 1.8 seconds later, there are three toddlers at my feet, eyes wide, faces sparkling excitment, their wee bodies radiating delight. “Agog” is the word.
“It’s an ironing board. Have you never seen one before?”
They don’t answer. They’re all much too busy being agog. Now it’s the iron I’m pulling out from the cupboard which has their attention. Watching the cord unwrap from around the iron is fascinating.
And now! Now I’m going to Plug! It! In!
Having completed that incredibly exciting manoeuvre, I turn back to the children. There they stand, three in a row, quivering with anticipation of the Next! Amazing! Thing! Mary is about to do. Three in a row, eyes wide, faces aglow, jiggling slightly from foot to foot, each with their hands…
clamped tightly over their ears.
Nope. They’ve never seen an iron before.
Baby Lily is the sweetest little thing. Enormous black-brown eyes and a thck shock of dark, dark brown hair and a calm, observing disposition. She’s not walking yet, so she’s pretty easy to corral.
Her parents are lovely, too. Engaging and interested, and oh, so eco-friendly. Which suits me just fine.
Lily wears cloth diapers. This is not a problem. My son was in cloth. Not the fancy-schmancy easy-as-you-please pocket diapers with velcro closures that Lily sports, but the dirt-cheap big white flannel squares. Which I folded and secured with real, live diaper pins. So, pocket diapers? Even if they have velcro closures (I prefer snaps)? Nooooo, problem.
Lily’s parents — bless their hearts! — also provide flushable diaper liners, which make cleaning up solids soooooooo much easier. I love those things! (I love those things so well I bought some for Nissa, who’s also in cloth diapers (also pocket, but with snaps, yay).)
They provide organic milk in glass bottles. I like that.
They love that I buy organic produce. (Though the issue for me is not potential bad stuff in normally-farmed food, but that this way I’m buying local — but they’d like that, too!) They love that I make my own sugar-free applesauce, various kinds of bread, and sometimes even yoghurt.
In short, we get on like a house a-fire. (Which is a very weird expression.) A happy little bunch of eco-geeks are we.
Except for one teeeeny thing. This:
I really do not like this thing. I did at first. I mean, just look at it! Isn’t it pretty? I was not deceived by its shape, mind you. That thing only looks like a breast to someone who has a) no idea of the mechanics of breast-feeding and b) takes their idea of the female form from the silicone-filled jobbies in People. It’s supposed to make newbie parents think they’re giving their baby something almost like a breast, (assuming your breasts are the perfect spheres of a manga girl) but as any lactation consultant could tell you, a real, human nipple looks nothing like that, not once it’s in the mouth of a real, human baby.
But still, it sure looks nice, all those sleek curves. It feels nice, too, all soft and grippy. It practically adheres to your hand. A baby is not going to drop this thing by accident. This will not preclude them merrily flinging it across the room, but it’s not going to slip.
And to tactile me, it is a delight. I love the feel of the thing. It feels almost like it has a nap (for all you non-sewers out there: nap is what gives velvet its soft feel.) I love the look of it, I love the feel of it.
You hear the ‘but’ coming, don’t you? Now, I’m sure there are legions of people out there who use this system and love it, and to all you people, I saw God luv ya, but as for me?
This thing drives me NUTS.
You fill it from the bottom, see, which right there seems counter-intuitive, given that the top has a hole in it. But I know, there’ve been bottom-filled bottles out there for years, and there are all sorts of creative ways around that obvious design flaw.
For these bottles, it’s the cover. Snug the cover on, and it encloses and closes the nipple, so, no leaking. Just like in the picture up there.
Now, I don’t know if it’s the polycarbonate-free and bisphenol-A free P-Flex (a modified TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)), or the equally bad-stuff free polypropylene copolymer, but the fact is, it grips like crazy.
You don’t ‘slip’ the cover on, you ‘wrangle it down’, and when you think it’s all the way down? It isn’t. Even if, like me, you shove it till you’re sure it’s down, and then give it another mightly shove or two, just to be sure. So when you
slide man-handle the cover off — which is not easy, given how hard you just wedged that baby on there — the quarter cup of milk that has poured out the top while you’ve poured it in the bottom? Sloshes all down your front.
I’ve had more milk spattered across my chest this past month. It’s like those early weeks of breast-feeding all over again! Only just with the damp, sour milk shirt part and none of the fun bits.
If you luck out and manage to get the nipple far enough into the cover to seal the hole at the tip, then odds are good that, when you put it upright again, you won’t have screwed the bottom on properly, and you’ll get a half-cup of milk all down yourself. Again with the damp, sour-milk shirts.
I’m not sure why that happens. It’s probably not the fault of the bottle. It’s probably just me, though really, I’ve been screwing things all my life and never had this much trouble with it.
Wait. That didn’t come out right.
I’m not normally coordination-challenged, is what I’m saying, so, while willing to admit it could well be me being inattentive or something, it does also strike me that it shouldn’t really take that much attention to screw the bottom onto a bottle. Because, really. You’re filling a bottle for a hungry baby, who just might — it’s been known to happen! — just might be screaming their starving lungs out. It’s a tad distracting.
(Not that little Lily does that, mind you. She’s not a huge food-driven baby. She may get there when she gets upright and is burning more calories, but right now she’s pretty mellow about this whole ‘sustenance’ thing.)
But lots of babies do, is what I’m saying, and the last thing you need is a bottle that requires careful attention. You want something you can sploosh the milk into, pop the nipple on and plug into the baby, quick and easy.
And this system? For all its undeniably appealing design, both for the eyes and the touch, despite its lack of multi-syllabic Bad Things and the presence of lots of equally-syllabic Good Things, is not quick and it is not easy.
Lovely, simple, easy glass Evenflos are calling…
I love craft blogs. Just love them.
(Though have you ever noticed how many of them put seventy-gazillion posts per page? So that the scroll thingy at the side is a tiny sliver, and the slightest shift of the mouse has you suddenly twelve posts away from where you were? Why do they do that?)
While I was ooo-ing over all the pretty things and becoming inspired — oh! I could do that! — I stumbled across this wonderful idea:
Seems there’s an orphanage there (I wonder if it’s the same one I heard about on the CBC?) which is looking for dolls to give to its children. They will be sent to Haiti from New York on March 14, so if you’re going to make one, they need to be shipped to New York in advance of that.
I’m not sure if I can manage to get my act together in time, but I’m going to try! Not wanting to commit to something and not come through, I’ll sign up when I have a doll part-way completed. One doll for sure, maybe more.
Any other sewers interested in trying, follow the links and sign up!